Hubble Captures Edge of the Cygnus Supernova Blast Wave

Cygnus Supernova Blast Wave

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope actually depicts a small section of the Cygnus supernova blast wave, located around 2400 light-years away. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, W. Blair, Acknowledgement: Leo Shatz

While appearing as a delicate and light veil draped across the sky, this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope actually depicts a small section of the Cygnus supernova blast wave, located around 2400 light-years away. The name of the supernova remnant comes from its position in the northern constellation of Cygnus (The Swan), where it covers an area 36 times larger than the full moon.

The original supernova explosion blasted apart a dying star about 20 times more massive than our Sun between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago. Since then, the remnant has expanded 60 light-years from its center. The shockwave marks the outer edge of the supernova remnant and continues to expand at around 350 kilometers per second. The interaction of the ejected material and the low-density interstellar material swept up by the shockwave forms the distinctive veil-like structure seen in this image.

30 Comments on "Hubble Captures Edge of the Cygnus Supernova Blast Wave"

  1. Mother Nature is awesome. So are the scientist who build telescopes like Hubble. A star 2400 light years from earth equals approximately 14,400 trillion miles. That we can observe such a thing that distant amazes me. What would amaze me even further if humanity could build a starship that could hold 100,000 people and last for 1000 years. And on board would be the necessities to update the power systems as they develop.

    • Dennis Driscoll | August 24, 2020 at 6:38 am | Reply

      I would like to know how to figure out how many miles travels in a year? at 186000. miles per second I am pretty sure that 2400 light years is farther than 14,400 trillion miles. Please correct me if I am wrong

      • Distance light travels in 1 year =
        186,000 miles/sec x 60(min) x 60(hours) x 24(days) x 365(year) =
        5865696000000 miles/yr
        2400 yrs x 5865696000000 miles/yr = 14077670400000000 miles
        14077.6 trillion miles

      • Bill Chambers | August 24, 2020 at 9:24 am | Reply

        I got 14,077 Trillion miles
        (186000 * 60 * 60 = 669,600,000 (1 hours travel)
        669,600,000 mph * 24 = 16,070,400,000 (miles per day)
        16,070,400,000 *365 = 5,865,696,000,000 (miles per year)
        5,865,696,000,000 *2400 = distance in 2400 years or 14,077,670,400,000,000 trillion miles, at those distances whats another 333 billion..

      • 186282 * 60 * 60 * 24 * 356.242199 *2400 = 14,108,369,491,055,508.48

        light miles per second *
        seconds per minute *
        minutes per hour *
        hours per day *
        days per year *
        2400

    • Yes Mother Nature is beautiful and wonderous. But I don’t really believe the picture is a telescope picture but rather an artist’s rendering.

      • “This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope actually depicts a small section of the Cygnus supernova blast wave…”
        The photo caption says that it’s a Hubble image, not someone’s drawing.

        • Sorry Vinshu, I think you missed the word DEPICTS in that title, I would agree with Joe dirt, artist rendering at best: the meaning of depict is as follows:”show or represent by a drawing, painting, or other art form”.

          • From Merriam-Webster.com:
            Depict and Depiction
            If you depict someone or something, you show what that person or thing is like—either in some kind of image (such as a drawing, painting, photograph, or movie), or with words.

  2. Fasterthanlight | August 24, 2020 at 3:07 am | Reply

    The speed of light is 299,792 kikometers per second and yet this article claims the shockwave “continues to expand at around 350 kilometers per second”. Is this an apparent velocity? A difference in velocities? An error? Please explain!

    • Its the remnant of the supernova that is moving at 350 km/sec . The shock wave is described by the outer edge of the remnant. of course the gravitational wave would have moved at speed of light but the hubble cant detect gravitational waves.

  3. The article says it expands at 350 kilometers per second. The speed of light is close to 300,000 per second…..so no it’s not breaking the laws of physics

  4. There were two images of this object taken 4 years apart by Hubble Space Telescope, the first one was taken in November 1997 and the second – in November 2001. The blast wave has changed its position in space during this time period, as could be seen in this animation I’ve created, based on data from Hubble Legacy Archive – https://www.astrobin.com/4kxgvn

    • I like your animation. If I calculated correctly, that tiny bit of movement reflects 44,180,640,000 km. Dag – hard to imagine that several of our solar systems could fit in that tiny little bit of movement! Thanks for sharing!

  5. A kilometer is approximately 0.62 miles just trying to explain what a kilometer is regarding a supernova explosion from 20,000 years ago

  6. First, we need to understand that the shock wave slows down over time. At the time of the explosion, it was moving well over 10,000 km/sec! When we consider the numbers, 1 light year is about 10 trillion kilometers, so 60 lt-yrs is about 600 trillion km. Divide that by 10,000 years means an average expansion rate of 60 billion km/yr. There are roughly 30 million seconds in a year, so this results in an average rate of roughly 2000 km/sec, which is perfectly reasonable.

  7. I think some people are a bit confused about the speed of the shock wave. The shockwave is compromised of many types of matter, not just light. Although it is light that is detected by the Hubble space telescope, it is light being reflected off of slower moving particles.

  8. Yes it is not 14 Trillion Miles but rather 14 Quadrillion Miles.

  9. Lucas Wilkerson | August 24, 2020 at 9:44 am | Reply

    PS3 home screen?

  10. Jeffrey A Hopkins | August 24, 2020 at 10:00 am | Reply

    Looks like the ribbon of light in 1 of the star trek movies. Lol

  11. Many of you are correct in your assumptions. However the argument makes intuitive sense. Time and Space, Light years, gravitational wave . These are the best conversation between people to have. Keep it up! We all learn from these united ideas and thoughts of intellect.

  12. That’s what started the Fantastic 4!

  13. Wow! 2400 light years is a great distance to observe space.

  14. aha i love time and space, whats cool is the fact that the images captured by hubble are over 2000 years old. the scene at the location hubble is looking at will be much different now than how we see it as we are observing it so far away. for all we know Betelgeuse could have gone supernova 600 years ago but it would be another 43 years before we see its happened. 😀

  15. That one two many days for me to stand by

  16. looks like the PS3 home screen

  17. Mother nature has nothing to do with it. It’s the creation of an awesome God.

  18. Many of you are correct in your assumptions. However the argument makes intuitive sense. Time and Space, Light years, gravitational wave . These are the best conversation between people to have. Keep it up! We all learn from these united ideas and thoughts of intellect.

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